Dr. Peter Walsh
Peter Walsh is a Lecturer in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge. Peter’s outside-the-box-perspective on ape conservation stems from a unique blend of natural science technical skills, social science training, and on-the-ground experience. He started with a BA in History from Middlebury College, with coursework in Politics and Economics. During MSc, MPhil, & PhD studies in the Department of Biology at Yale University he turned to the dark side, immersing himself in the black arts (mathematical modelling, statistics, computer programming and molecular biology). Since then he has spent more than five years in Gabon, Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, and Cameroon applying his technical skills to both applied wildlife conservation and basic scientific research, working as a postdoctoral fellow at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the American Museum of Natural History, a Conservation Ecologist at WCS, an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Princeton University, and a Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. His early conservation efforts included design work on the CITES elephant monitoring system, the first scientific surveys of whales in West African waters and the first study of invasive fire ants in Africa. Focusing on gorillas and chimpanzees since 2002, he is considered a world expert on their distribution and conservation. He lead the report raising the IUCN Red List status of western gorillas to Critically Endangered, the first scientific vaccination trial on wild apes, and the first trial in which captive chimpanzees were used to test a vaccine intended for use on wild apes rather than humans. He also collaborated on the first molecular analysis of human virus spillover into wild apes and the first study of the effects of tourism on stress hormones in gorillas. His basic research focuses on the ecology and evolution of viruses that emerge from gorillas and chimpanzees into humans (e.g. HIV-SIV, malaria, and Ebola virus) and the evolutionary origins of human search through real-world and online social networks in the foraging behaviour of apes, elephants and other animals. He publishes regularly in leading journals such as Science and Nature.